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Gender – Learning and Performing the Roles of PowerContexts of “Guyland,” “Mean Girls,” Mr. Cougar, and Unreal boys.
Sex in the Body and Gender•It is so personal how we think of ourselves in our male and female bodies and the social roles and fates that they seem to have determined for us.•But the issue is more complex than playing out our natural and anatomical destinies.•We treat gender – the performance of masculine and feminine behaviors – as a social and not biological fact.•The sociology of gender is not about the consequences of differences between the sexes, but about the consequences of beliefs about or interpretations of differences between the sexes.
Ambiguities in the Science of Sex Differences•Within “sex” and gender categories, there is notable variation in the behaviors of male and female persons.•Across time and cultures, aspects of gendered behavior assumed to be innate, natural and grounded in the facts of the body are quite varied.•Scientific studies of sex differences in capacities and performances are difficult to conduct ––Biases and assumptions of investigators–Difficulties setting an agenda of comparison without reference to prior, societal assumptions of differences–Difficulties disentangling causes of “measured” differences from social effects – socialization and social roles.
Nevertheless gender is socially real and consequential•If a situation is believed to be real, it isreal in its consequences.•Gender differences in reproduction and child-rearing are both real and socially consequential;•Gender differences in physical endowments – upper body strength and wide hips – are real and are consequential in societies depending on the acknowledged needs of the group.–Someone must contend with natural and social predators and threats–Someone must devote time gathering food–Someone must organize a “household” and support the rearing of the young–PERHAPS upper body strength and wide hips are interpreted to qualify individuals for these roles.
Gender is real•Household and family sex roles•Income differences•Returns to education•Access to occupations•Participation in education and trainingBUT ARE THESE DIFFERENCES THE EFFECTS OF Chromosomes, reproductive anatomy, hormones?
Within social science: Gender is a construct•Acknowledging a biological component to gender (interpretations of meanings of bodies; insufficient information on how particular genetic sequences govern cognition and behavior, or where hormonal effects drive social constructs or social constructs are seen as effects of hormonal differences) we take for granted a SOCIAL dimension of gender.•But if gender is a social phenomenon played out on physical bodies, how does this work?